Winslow Myers is an artist who lives and exhibits in Maine

BalthusAt the heart of the layered ambiguities in the work of this genius lies a deep simplicity and innocence. Through hard work in a difficult metier which he bent to his own lofty ambitions, the cultured, self-taught outcast earned himself the directorship of the French Academy in Rome and became the recipient of international honors. Throughout a lifetime of chaos and change Balthus stood his ground in his own being, affirming his identity by means of pictorial emblems of those values which opposed the brutality of his times and overcame it – the honesty and freedom in the forms of growing children, a feudal rootedness in ancient and fertile landscapes, and loyalty to friends, recorded with an insight that was as precise as it was sympathetic. People who think Balthus is prurient are the same sort of people who think Dylan can’t sing—they are projecting their own visual or musical tone-deafness. In the face of a century of death, Balthus sustained his commitment to Eros from early youth into advanced old age. In his art he achieved a universality which not only attempted to carry forward the golden thread of European painting, but also to integrate East and West in a timeless synthesis. It may still be asked, is there anything “modern” about Balthus – will his work come to be seen not only as revelatory of its time but also experimental? The answer is emphatically yes, in the sense that he was as much an “action painter” in his own way as Pollock or de Kooning, uncovering in a patient voyage toward the unknown those combinations of form, color and texture that allowed each work to take on autonomous life beyond the impersonal dedication of its maker.